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It will go down as one of the most popular victories in CIK-FIA World Championship history! Danny Keirle is one of the most talented drivers the UK has to offer and after being given a fantastic opportunity to race with Zanardi Karts at the World’s he showed the factory teams what he was made of with a win in the biggest karting event in the World. It’s a result that will certainly change his racing career forever.
As much as the CIK-FIA commentator would mention this was ‘the driver no one had heard of before this event’ any British fans knew Danny Keirle would be a big player. However, the commentator did make a point as Danny has never raced in a CIK-FIA event before so to the mighty factory teams he may have been unknown. Danny has raced out of the UK in the IAME International Final where he was 10th in 2015 and 9th in 2016. He also had the opportunity to race at the SKUSA Supernationals with Fullerton USA last year where he looked on for victory before hitting problems.
So coming into the event Danny had never quite had his break in terms of results at International level but had a very good 2017 season with a win at Kartmasters and in Super One. That form saw him spotted by Zanardi Karts and with good equipment underneath him he won a race all drivers dream of winning.
Straight from the off Keirle looked quick taking 7th in qualifying. Fellow Brit, Callum Bradshaw was pole with European Champion Pavel Bulanstev 2nd and Juho Valtanen 3rd. It was the heats where Keirle really started to hit form as he took a 2nd and four victories which would unsurprisingly put him on pole for the final.
Pedro Hiltbrand may have had an unsuccessful title defence in the European Championship but the World’s looked to be going a lot better with the Spaniard qualifying on the front row. Valtanen was 3rd with David Vidales 4th and Esteban Muth 5th. Fin Kenneally in 6th and Oliver Hodgson in 9th were the only other British drivers to qualify in the top ten along with Keirle.
Things seemed to be going perfectly for Keirle heading into the final but as much as Keirle knows the PFI circuit the pressure was immense. Could he join the likes of Terry Fullerton, Mike Wilson, Colin Brown, Jake Dennis and Lando Norris in becoming a British World Champion? He was a crowd favourite with his relatable personality and it was the fairy-tale story everyone was hoping to see end in tremendous fashion.
As the final got underway Keirle got off to a perfect start making no mistakes and didn’t even need to defend on the opening lap. Behind his teammate Muth made his way to 2nd with Valtanen and Vidales included in the lead group. The top four weren’t exactly working together but weren’t fighting either and were breaking away out front with Hodgson the best of the rest.
The first half of the race saw Keirle slowly break away from Muth, behind Vidales had gone through to 3rd and looked the only driver able to match Keirle. But then in the second half of the race Keirle just upped the pace once again and as the laps ticked by was starting to look more and more comfortable. Hodgson was slowly closing in on the top four and could be looking at a podium should a battle commence ahead.
However, that was never to be mostly down to the fact Keirle made absolutely no mistakes. He was making the race boring to watch from a neutral point of view, but from a British point of view he had everyone on the edge of their seats. One mistake and Valtanen would become dangerous, but Keirle looked like someone who had been racing at CIK-FIA level for years! Going on to the last lap it then started to hit Keirle, he looked over his shoulder for the first time! He then ran slightly wide at hairpin one and got some oversteer through hairpin two. That brought Valtanen closer but it was nothing major to worry about as the crowd began to celebrate with Keirle just a few corners away from writing his name in the history books.
Out the last corner the crowd went wild as Keirle had done it! He had become World Champion on home soil making it two British World Champions is one day! Something that was last done by Enaam Ahmed and Lando Norris back in 2014 at Essay (FRA).
Keirle was a hugely popular winner not only with his competitors but he certainly got the biggest cheer of the afternoon heading on to the podium. You couldn’t take the smile off his face and it begs the question surely we’ll see him back in CIK-FIA racing next year. I can personally see Keirle being approached by a factory team, similar to Hiltbrand last year who landed a contract with the Tony Kart Racing Team. He may have been on home soil but his experience in the OK class is very limited yet he’s gone and beaten the best of the best in dominant fashion and looked tough to beat all weekend!
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of KSP/CIK-FIA